Review by C.J. Bunce
As part of the release of the new single-player action-adventure game Shadow of the Tomb Raider, two new companion books are coming your way, Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Path of the Apocalypse and Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The Official Art Book. The game, available for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, continues the adventures of Lara Croft following the conclusion of the story launched in the 2015 game Rise of the Tomb Raider. Players accompany Lara on her harrowing journey to become the survivor we know as the Tomb Raider. The Official Art Book features exclusive concept art and developer interviews detailing the conclusion of Lara Croft’s origin story.
Path of the Apocalypse is the official tie-in novel to the game, written by S.D. Perry. As we catch up with Lara, she has taken the Key of Chak Chel, setting off an apocalyptic flood–the Cleansing–foreshadowed by the ancient Maya (but she only did it because the agents of the secretive organization called Trinity were going to get to it first!). She uncovers several clues that may help her prevent the next three foretold apocalyptic events from happening, but it seems like she may be the character in the ancient stories herself, acting to fulfill their prophecy. Her first adventure is escaping the remnants of a flooded village. Next, she and her companion Jonah must hire a plane that can sneak them under Trinity’s wide net of operatives, to re-trace the very steps of Trinity inside a system of deep caves, a path to the hidden Peruvian city where the silver Box of Ix Chel is hidden. Halfway through her survival story inside these caves, readers might wish they had started to draw out their own map of the caves, lay out some kind of bread crumbs to find their way to the surface. Lara continues deeper into the cave as Trinity operatives kidnap her friend and a pilot. Do they wait for her to emerge from the cave’s entrance or take their weapons into the cave and pursue her? And what are these toothy animals appearing in the dark corners of the cave? With the fate of the world at stake, Lara is in no position to just give up.
Beginning with artwork from the 2013 Tomb Raider game and including great images from Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Official Art Book chronicles the video game production process, from concept to final design. Art director Martin Dubeau, character artist Michael Verhaaf, and concept artists Maxim Verehin and Yun Ling, and hundreds of others served as digital costume designers, prop creators, and environment location scouts–just as if they were making a full-scale, live-action motion picture–incorporating their historical research on ancient Latin American cultures. The game goes deeper into the history than the novel, introducing ancient peoples and the artifacts of their world. These were all designed by Dubeau’s team and are incorporated in full-color layouts in The Official Art Book.
The artifact designs pictured are fantastic, the Maya ruins seem to come to life, and Lara Croft brings the tension of a skilled survivor on a perilous quest. Puzzles are hidden both inside the novel, discussed in the art book, and a key feature of the game. Part of the look of the game can be found in this year’s Tomb Raider motion picture, but even more locations and environments were constructed for the game: jungles, rivers, local towns, ruins, waterfalls, temples, cenotes or sinkholes, catacombs,and tombs. The art book also contains eight thumbnail sketches of puzzles developed for the game by 3D modeler Yann Régnier.
The action-adventure game Shadow of the Tomb Raider is available now in these formats (links to Amazon for more information): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Order the two new companion books now, Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Path of the Apocalypse (here) and Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The Official Art Book (here), both great options to further immerse players into the experience of the new game.